Gophers’ NFL-caliber receivers shine in national spotlight

Gophers wide receivers (⬆️ UP)

Minnesota legitimately has three future NFL receivers on its roster in Tyler Johnson, Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell. In the Gophers’ biggest game in decades against No. 5 Penn State, the trio didn’t shy away from the spotlight. Bateman caught seven passes for 203 yards and one touchdown, becoming the second Gophers receiver ever to tally 200+ receiving yards. Johnson hauled in seven catches himself for 104 yards and a score, and Autman-Bell logged three catches for 31 yards and a score. Row the boat, Ski-U-Mah, go Gophers.

 

Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves forward (⬆️ UP)

Is Wiggins realizing his potential? Over his last four games, the top pick in the 2014 draft is putting together one of the better stretches of his career. Wiggins is averaging 32 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in that span and is more efficient from the field than ever. He’s shooting just 12.1% of his 2-points from 16 feet or deeper, compared to 18.1% last year and 25.3% in 2016-17. If Wiggins can show this is more of a trend than a mirage and can prove he’s a legitimate running mate with Karl-Anthony Towns, we could see this Timberwolves team in the playoff hunt in a few months.

 

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Kirk Cousins, Vikings quarterback (⬆️ UP)

Cousins quieted the national critics Sunday night by overcoming his Achilles heel — primetime games against teams with winning records on the road. Cousins threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns (both to Kyle Rudolph) en route to a 28-24 win over Dallas. Now, one win doesn’t settle the storyline just yet. Minnesota has three more primetime games remaining on its schedule (against Seattle, the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay) for Cousins to further prove himself. But for now, the Vikings look like a team with flaws that could still make a postseason run in January.

 

Vikings cornerbacks (⬇️ DOWN)

Minnesota made a statement with its 28-24 victory over Dallas. It was a great game all around … except in the defensive backfield. Sure, the Vikings were missing Trae Waynes, arguably their best cornerback on the roster these days, but Dak Prescott and the Cowboys gashed Minnesota for 393 passing yards. Amari Cooper alone posted 11 catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. On the season, the Vikings have allowed opposing quarterbacks to tally a 93.5 passer rating, up from 83.3 last year and way up from 73.0 in 2017.

 

Rocco Baldelli, Twins manager (⬆️ UP)

This whole managing thing seems easy. At least when Baldelli does it. After one full season of leading a big-league club, the Twins’ skipper was named the 2019 American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday. Baldelli became the fourth Twins manager to earn the honor and the third this decade, joining Ron Gardenhire (2010) and Paul Molitor (2017). The 38-year-old is the youngest manager to win the award.